Mastering PPE and workwear procurement

A smart approach to procurement strategy can bring benefits across a business

In today’s economy, there is no such thing as ‘business as usual’. Procurement strategy is therefore becoming an increasingly vital tool in adapting to change. Adopting a smarter, more strategic approach to business spend management can deliver several benefits to companies including risk mitigation in the supply chain, cost savings, and improved business agility and resilience.

Procurement is an increasingly essential part of an organisation’s operational management process. It helps organisations ensure that they have the right equipment and services at the right time, in the right quantity and at the right price to meet their operational needs and strategic objectives, while also ensuring compliance with legal and ethical standards. Smart procurement can not only help organisations to operate effectively, efficiently and with agility; it can also achieve cost savings, improve quality and reduce supply chain risks.

When buying workwear and PPE, procurement strategies and tactics will vary depending on the size of the business buying the resources. Buying better is a delicate balance of instinct and experience and the following steps can help businesses of all sizes buy with more confidence and with better results.

1. Choose your suppliers carefully

Conduct thorough research to identify reliable suppliers who offer quality products at competitive prices. But don’t necessarily always be motivated by price. Consider factors such as reputation, industry experience, product quality, service level agreements and customer service when selecting suppliers.

2. Take counsel from end users

Procurement should also consider the opinions of those within your organisation who directly work with your suppliers’ products or services. They will have valuable insight into the kind of suppliers that work well for the business. This is incredibly important when procuring safety wear and PPE as adoption and correct usage is of paramount importance. It’s also important for branded workwear, as your frontline, customer-facing staff need to feel comfortable and confident in their apparel. And what they wear needs to reflect your business professionally too.

3. Consider Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) when comparing costs

Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO, is a comprehensive financial estimate that encapsulates all costs associated with a product or service throughout its entire lifecycle, from initial acquisition to eventual disposal. TCO goes beyond the initial purchase or procurement costs, taking into account a multitude of both direct and indirect costs. This all-encompassing perspective allows procurement specialists to make more informed decisions, by considering not just the initial purchase price, but the entire spectrum of associated costs.

When procuring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as safety gloves or goggles, for example, buyers should not only look at the purchase price but also factors like training for correct usage and costs relating to storage, maintenance and disposal. All these elements contribute to the TCO and help make procurement comparisons easier when looking at suppliers with different service-level provisions.

4. Build relationships with your suppliers

Treating your suppliers fairly and with consideration can yield longer-term benefits for your business. Developing a culture of open communication and mutual trust can lead to better deals and superior service. Regularly reviewing and evaluating supplier performance and credentials in a transparent process ensures they meet your expectations and gives suppliers the opportunity to evolve as your business grows.

5. Commit to payment terms

According to analysis of UK Government data by the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (‘CIPS’), one in four invoices received by large businesses are paid late and there has been no improvement in the average time it takes to pay suppliers. With cash flow issues mounting across the economy, as the pressures of inflation bite, this can cause a significant ripple effect through the supply chain. Resilient and viable supply chains are an essential component of longer-term procurement success.

As Nick Welby, CEO, CIPS says: “suppliers should not be expected to bankroll their customers and a culture of ‘buy now, pay at some point’ is not acceptable. Paying suppliers promptly not only strengthens relationships but can lower costs and, crucially, build resilience across supply chains – something that has been severely tested in recent years”.

6. Consider ESG credentials

Environmental, Social and Governance credentials are becoming increasingly important in modern business. If you are working with a larger business, they may want visibility of the ESG credentials and commitments throughout your supply chain. Having PPE and workwear suppliers with ISO certifications and a commitment to operating sustainably can help give your onward buyers assurances about ESG considerations.

Buying better can significantly enhance an organisation’s overall business performance. Reducing your cost base, building resilience in your supply chain and driving efficiency in processes can all be achieved through better buying. While the workwear and PPE procurement needs and challenges may vary for each business, all organisations will benefit from regularly reviewing and adapting procurement strategies to stay competitive and achieve their business goals.

There are several elements to consider when developing or updating a PPE and workwear procurement strategy. The friendly and expert team at Contego are always on hand to understand your requirements and provide you with guidance and advice. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or

Published on 20 November 2023


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